The federal and provincial governments have entered into a draft bilateral Conservation Agreement under Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act with the goal of creating overarching commitments, measures and strategies for Southern Mountain Caribou recovery. BC’s Minister of Forests, Land and Natural Resources Doug Donaldson made the announcement yesterday.

“I can’t emphasize enough that these draft agreements are historic in Canada and aim to protect an iconic species at risk that has seen drastic population declines,” he stated. “These agreements include tangible and real measures that are rooted in the best available science and traditional knowledge.”

Recovery measures outlined in the draft agreement include predator management, continuing ongoing engagement with recreation stakeholders and developing phase 2 herd plans.

Minister Donaldson highlighted that in May the federal government determined there was an imminent threat to caribou recovery across BC.

“The old government ignored the need to protect caribou habitat for over a decade and instead kept in place a patchwork of measures that obviously failed to meet federal government standards.”

The agreement is a big achievement according to Eddie Petryshen, conservation coordinator with Wildsight.

“There’s a level of cooperation that wasn’t there before between the province and the federal government and hopefully in the future further agreements with First Nations on cooperative management.”

The province also announce a draft Partnership Agreement which includes the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations, as well as the governments of BC and Canada to help protect herds in the central region.

Petryshen hopes it’s a sign of what might be possible in other parts of the province.

“This specific agreement in the Peace will go along way to providing wildlife like caribou with kind of an island of safety and intact habitat into the future in really a sea of industrial landscape up there, so that is a really positive step.”

Petryshen adds there’s not a lot of action in the draft Section 11 Agreement until phase two where herd plans come into play.┬áThe draft Section 11 Agreement does not include prescribed protected areas. The province says development of herd plans through a collaborative process with Indigenous peoples and stakeholders could identify habitat in need of protection or restoration.

Meetings will be hosted for Indigenous peoples, communities and key stakeholder groups. Public engagement is also open online until April 26.

For more information, click here.

Map of draft Section 11 & Partnership Agreement Scope (Government of BC)